“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” John Muir
I received many questions about hiking with children and I wanted to share our journey with the community today. I really love the idea of sharing our adventures with you all because I can look back years from now and relive little bits of time with my family!
Hiking has easily become one of our favorite outdoor activities (and you all know how much time we spend outdoors!) and I really believe that every family can benefit from a little hike here and there. Before hiking, there are a lot of safety concerns to consider and I will be touching on that a little later on this post. For now, let’s get into the fun and exploration:)
Exploring > Hiking
One of my favorite questions that I received was,
“Doesn’t the child slow down the hike? How is that fun???”
This made me laugh so hard! I want to be clear here; Toddlers do NOT hike. Toddlers walk for 20 seconds and then stop for 20 minutes looking at a bug on the ground. Toddlers walk for 20 seconds, stumble for 3 seconds, and then they want a snack in Mommy or Daddy’s arms. Toddlers want to play, jump, throw, kick and scream…Let’s just say that toddlers want to do everything BUT hike.
To be honest, this is my favorite part about hiking with children! I am not looking to race to the top or prove that my legs can perform 500 lunges before giving out. I’m looking to explore with my children, explore their faces as they explore, enjoy every laugh and shriek, and relish the moments. I am looking to sit on a rock and thank the universe for all that it has given to me. I am looking to kiss and hug my children as they toss another rock into the river.
Change your perspective and it will be the highlight of your memories.
Choosing Your Hike!
When choosing a hike, you must consider your children and their abilities with walking, climbing, and time. Our boys are 18 months old and can walk about 45 minutes before needing to be baby carried or have a rest for a good amount of time. Because of this, we decided on a short 1-hour hike with a cafe at the foot of the hike and a cafe at the top of the hike (this is VERY common in South Tyrol as the mountains are every hiker’s dream and the community accommodates for tourists and hikers alike).
I would absolutely keep hiking to the “beginner” level for any child under 6-7 years of age with lots of time for breaks, snacking, and exploring. It is very important to understand that hiking with children is not actually “hiking”; it is more like “strolling with a million stops to point and scream in excitement”. In the end, you know your children better than anyone else and you can assess their abilities before planning your adventure.
Trust your gut!
Sticks and Journals
If you are a lover of journaling or crafts, then hiking with children will bring so much joy to your life! A favorite activity of ours during hikes is to fill up a small bag with our treasures; sticks, feathers, rocks, flowers, etc. Once we are home, we either craft with the items, add them to a scrapbook or use them as toys for the children. The boys have a box full of amazing treasures from our adventures and they have been their favorite toys thus far.
Creations are endless!
Essentials to Pack
When hiking with children, it is very important to keep them dry, warm, well fed, and well rested. Those are my top rules!
If one of these rules are broken, the day is pretty much over.
We must meet our children’s basic needs before ever attempting to hike, camp, or explore.
The essentials for hiking with our family include:
Baby Carriers / Hiking carrier
Disposable/Cloth Diapers and Wipes with a reusable bag for trash
Navigation tools (map/compass/GPS device)
Sun protection (We used badger for today’s hike)
Fire tools (emergency)
Checking the weather is one of the first things that we do before heading out the door. If there is a slight chance of bad weather, we simply reschedule the hike. Mixing bad weather with a child hiking is never a good idea and changing plans can be quite simple; head to a small forest patch, park, garden, etc.
Save the hikes for your clear sky days!
Hiking parents have the option to go with a simple everyday carrier or for the ultimate hiking carrier. I really do love both and it depends on your comfort level. If you are planning on carrying your child for a very long distance, I recommend a hiking carrier vs an everyday. If, like us, your child will be walking a good portion of the hike and you will be resting in intervals to avoid exhaustion, I would say that the everyday carrier is just fine!
Tips for First Timers
Here are a few tips that I learned from the past year with my sons.
I hope it helps you on your next adventure!
Give each child their own water bottle and encourage drinking at every rest point.
Hiking boots are unnecessary; just use sneakers and bring an extra pair of socks.
Give your child a small backpack of their own to carry small items like snacks or sticks/rocks. They love it!
Do not hike for too long; you have to walk back too (most likely carrying a sleeping child).
Ensure that the hike is suitable for children (triple check reviews if unsure!).
Get ready to be DIRTY. Just embrace it!
Nourishing and Potassium Packed Pear Smoothie
My favorite post-hiking smoothie to re-hydrate and nourish our bodies!
- 2 cups spinach, frozen
- 1 pear, cored (no need to peel)
- 1 ripe banana, frozen (peeled)
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1/2 cup water
- Squeeze of lemon
- 1 knob ginger, lightly peeled
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- Optional: 1/2 avocado and 1 tbsp chia seeds are wonderful for a more filling smoothie
My favorite way to prepare: I prep these smoothies for the week by placing the pear, spinach, banana, and ginger in a freezer safe bag and freezing overnight. I create 7 bags to last me the week!
**If you want a more hydrating smoothie, substitute the plant milk for coconut water!
When you would like to drink your smoothie, simply grab from the freezer and empty bag into the blender. Add liquid and hemp seeds and blend until smooth. Absolutely delicious!
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